What You Missed at the Market

Okay, things are really heating up on Saturdays now. The stone fruit is in full swing and everybody and their mother has showed back up.

Here’s what was new or interesting to me this week.

Fred and Paula of Savage Island Farms brought the first Ranier cherries of the season. I got three containers, plus two containers of Brooks. I am eating cherries twice a day every day right now.

Michelle’s Zephyr squash have come in. I know I was saying I thought I might still be tired of summer squash from last year, but seeing these changed my mind. These have a wonderful flavor. I’m planning to incorporate them into a tamale pie later in the week and serve that with black beans for a true Three Sisters dinner.

Michelle also has fava beans. One week earlier in the spring, when it was much quieter at the market than it is now, she was de-podding beans to cook when she got home. (Now she’s working her booth along with two helpers, and there is no de-podding action in sight.) I know some people also peel them first. She said she cooks, then peels. Favas are the ultimate in food encryption technology.

Vachte Moukhiarian of Cracked Pepper Bistro was back for another installment of Chefs at the Market. Kabobs with a Achiote-Mexican Chocolate Glaze (I think I wrote that down right) were on offer this week. All the vegetables are from the market, including the mushrooms. How many farmers’ markets have a mushroom vendor?

Yes, there is pork in that shot. No, I haven’t gone over to the carnivorous side. He was kind enough to make some veg-only kabobs, hiding out there in the background. The glaze was intriguing, but the vegetables didn’t absorb it as well as it looked like the meat kabobs did – more mushrooms or the addition of some firm tofu to the mix would have boosted the kabobs’ appeal for me.

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What You Missed at the Market

Today was the first day with stone fruit in abundance. Koz Farms, Apakarian and Vince Iwo all had tables with an assortment of apricots, nectarines, peaches, and even some plums. Vince Iwo had these – the plums are the first I’ve seen. They’re the Red Nugget variety. I got a few, and found them to be pleasingly soft with a sweet reddish flesh. A good start to the plum season.

Fred of Savage Island Farms was back with Brooks cherries. I know this is my third cherry picture in as many weeks, but I can’t get enough of photographing them or eating them. They just look so bright and happy. My plan for the day when I woke up this morning was to buy too many apricots and cherries and make myself totally unwell on them. Mission accomplished, thanks to Fred here and Michelle at KMK. Fred will have his apricots along in a couple weeks.

The multi-colored carrots at Il Giardino Organico are sizing up nicely.

More about today, including Bistro Rustico’s Varouj Kachichian making a Chefs at the Market visit, behind the jump.

Pictured here is his phenomenal Spring Vegetable Risotto.

Continue reading “What You Missed at the Market”

The Birds and the Fresno Bee

I love the tack Dennis Pollack took on this headline for an article about the great flavor of this year’s stone fruit crop: Birds Give Tree Fruit High Marks.  Perhaps he’s trying to reach the avian market.  It surprises me a little bit, because their readership is generally limited to what’s on the bottom of the cage.

From the article:

"Birds know the difference," said Gordon Wiebe, a Reedley grower, explaining that he’s seeing more bird pecks in the fruit this year. "Last year the quality was down."

What You Missed at the Market

I arrived at about 9:45 this morning. The parking lot was just chockablock with cars and the market just as much so with people. It was crowded enough that I had to wait just about everywhere, which hasn’t been the case for a while.

I’ll admit, I had one of those seasonal eater snob moments in which I thought to myself, “Ah, now that the tomatoes are out you’re all here. Where were you people all winter? I was here every week when the choices were greens, greens, or greens.”

And that’s not really accurate – there were other brassicas to choose from too. (I kid, actually – I think November might be one of the nicest months of the year for the farmer’s market here – once the heat goes, the variety increases incredibly.) And thinking that way is not really helpful either – I am just happy to see the market really busy again.

I nearly walked into Fred Smeds of Savage Island Farms, whom I haven’t seen all winter. He was there to check that he’d be able to get his slot next week. I told him I’d been about ready to hunt up his card and call him, it’d been so long. He said the citrus just wasn’t worth bringing this year, which was what I had figured. He’ll be back next week with apricots, to which I say hooray.

The entrance sign pretty much sums it up, but there’s more of what you might have missed at the market, including a Chefs at the Market appearance by Cracked Pepper’s Vachte Moukhiarian, behind the cut. His recipe for Sweet Ginger Vinaigrette for this farmers’-market-born mixed greens and strawberry salad is there too.

Continue reading “What You Missed at the Market”

What You Missed at the Market

The first cherries of the season made their appearance today, courtesy of Michelle at KMK farms. They are the Brooks variety. Mine were gone within an hour of arriving home, and were startlingly good for the first of the season.

Michelle has also had the first squash of the season the last couple weeks.

I didn’t get any this week…I’m still trying to cling to the spring vegetables – asparagus, peas, green garlic, spring onions, radishes, leeks. Chimp and I had the following conversation on the arrival of our first CSA-box squash last week, in fact:

“I’m not ready to eat zucchini again yet,” I said. “I think I’m still tired of it from last summer.”

“Interesting,” he replied. “I have a lot higher zucchini tolerance than I do asparagus.”

I looked at him with incredulity.

How can he possibly think that, I thought. To compare asparagus – asparagus! – the subtle, mysterious, evanescent harbinger of spring – unfavorably to zucchini, the plebian, watery, sprawling, overeager bane of midsummer? How could you possibly?

I decided not to disagree with him on this occasion. It’s a fight you can’t win, the vegetable preference fight. I adore him, but we feel differently about some of the vegetables – he doesn’t have any love for artichokes either, and will also let me eat all the olives that come into the house. More artichokes and olives for me, I say.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention this – not food, but awfully pretty: there were snapdragons in profusion on offer this week.